Friday, April 5, 2013

Atonement DPS Guide - Basics

Penance: It's what's for breakfast.
Due to a series of buffs, nerfs to mainstream Disc healing, and the t14 4-piece bonus, Atonement healing is now a competitive raiding spec. It's not really DPS, and it's not really healing. It's the first true hybrid spec. This guide outlines an approach to Atonement focusing on dealing maximum possible DPS.

  1. Gearing
  2. Enchants
  3. Gems
  4. Glyphs
  5. Talents
  6. Rotation
  7. Buffs


As of patch 5.2, Atonement DPS priests desire the following stats:
  1. Intellect
  2. Spell Power
  3. Spirit (until 9-10k, see below)
  4. Critical Strike
  5. Spirit
  6. Haste
  7. Mastery
Spirit is locally a very powerful stat if you have enough Haste to run OOM. Haste is locally a very powerful stat if you have enough Spirit to not run OOM. However, 2.5 Crit > 1.5 Spirit + 1 Haste, globally. Since it's impossible to gear only Int/Crit, you will have some Haste and Spirit; try to keep them approximately balanced. The exact balance depends heavily on other sources of mana income, such as trinkets, Darkglow Embroidery, etc. I have found 6k spirit, plus an additional 1.5 Spirit per Haste rating to be a good mix when using two regen trinkets.

Even focusing on the healing produced, 1 Haste + 1.5 Spirit > 2.5 Mastery. Mastery is not a good stat for Atonement. It is about 20% worse than Haste/Spirit.

Technically, hit rating effects Mind Sear and Reflective Shield damage. While the effect is quite strong for Mind Sear, hit rating does not offer any healing, unlike DPS from most Atonement stats. Do not take hit gear.

The healer 4-piece tier-14 bonus is amazingly powerful; go out of your way to obtain a set on the highest difficulty you can. It's a fair bit better than same-difficulty tier-15 gear. No other current set bonus effects Disc DPS.


You'll want to enchant your gear before heading into a raid. Use the following enchants, unless your profession gives you a better one:


Be sure to fill your sockets. If you can't afford rare gems, buy cheaper uncommon gems instead. In general, the lower-quality gems you're using, the more important it is to match the socket color. (Socketed items come with a Socket Bonus, some bonus stats you get for filling the sockets with gems of the same color. You are not required to socket gems that match the color; sometimes filling in with other gems is better.)
  • Meta: (Almost) always use Burning Primal Diamond. Revitalizing Primal Diamond can be better only if you can't get enough spirit through any other means.
  • Red: Use Purified (Int / Spirit) gems if you need the Spirit, or Brilliant (Int) otherwise.
  • Yellow: Use Misty (Spirit / Crit) gems if you need the Spirit, or Potent (Int / Crit) otherwise.
  • Blue: Use Sparkling (Spirit) gems if you really need the Spirit, or Purified (Int / Spirit) otherwise.
Courageous Primal Diamond is excellent if you can get it, and allows you to drop about 700 Spirit. Once you've appropriately lowered your Spirit, it adds about 1k DPS over the 3% crit ones. It can have a bit of a bigger effect if you intentionally use expensive spells - like Halo - during its uptime.

The DPS legendary meta may look tempting, but between GCD capping all the time and needing way more Spirit, it's actually worse than the 3% crit metas!


Wear the following glyphs. Listed in order of importance.
  • Smite 
  • (Penance) - Optional: I'm going to quote what another priest once told me. "It's not so much that you need to move while casting Penance. It's just that once you do, you'll never want to go back."
  • (Holy Fire) - Optional: Helpful if you would sometimes be out of range otherwise. Applicable on most Throne of Thunder fights.
  • Other situational glyphs - The new glyph system is designed to make most glyphs situational. Always consider your other options if you're stuck on a fight. I recommend dropping Holy Fire to take a situational glyph if you choose to use one.


Level 45 Talents
  • Solace and Insanity is nearly-mandatory for Atonement DPS. Its inherent mana return is smaller than Mindbender, but it removes the cost of Holy Fire, making it nearly twice as good for mana. The reduction in Spirit needed to remain mana-stable contributes more damage than Mindbender does directly.
  • Mindbender grants less mana than Solace and Insanity, but directly contributes damage and can be of value as a burst cooldown. It is a direct DPS gain if you have too much Spirit and cannot simply reforge the Spirit away.
  • FD,CL is of no DPS value.
Level 75 Talents
  • Due to the extremely-frequent and smart nature of Atonement heals - and the fact that Atonement double-dips on the buff - Twist of Fate is of surprisingly-high value on virtually all progression fights. Its value drops dramatically if your raid never falls below 20% HP, but still averages better than Power Infusion.
  • Power Infusion is typically worse, but can be better if you can make good use of the burst to deal with specific fight mechanics.
  • Divine Insight is of minimal DPS value.
Level 90 Talents

These have been discussed to death in Shadow priest forums and guides, and all the same logic applies here. Despite their high mana cost, they're worth casting in AoE situations. Note that using these talents dramatically increases your mana needs, but will likely increase your damage/healing despite the lost Haste from reforging deeper into Spirit.

Pick whichever one's AoE is suited to the type of fight. Generally, don't use Cascade unless neither of the others work; it does not provide both damage and healing at the same time.


Use the following priority list for boss fights:
  1. Penance
  2. Halo / Divine Star / Cascade - Use only if needed for the healing or for AoE damage; do NOT use for single-target damage.
  3. Holy Fire / Solace
  4. Shadowfiend / Mindbender
  5. Power Word: Shield - Advanced.* Use only if Solace and Penance are about to come off cooldown. See below for details and explanation.
  6. Smite
The key to good Atonement DPS is making sure your Penance and Holy Fire cooldowns get used immediately when they come up. (Actually, the key is 4-piece tier-14, but keeping your rotation tight is a close second.) Make a power aura for the cooldown, watch your bars like a hawk, whatever it takes to makes sure that Penance is being cast the instant it's up.

* Power Word: Shield is an odd spell in the Disc DPS rotation, as it provides no actual damage of its own. Given that you value the healing in some way, it's worth using instead of the final Smite before both Penance and Solace come up. Neither spell consumes Borrowed Time, but both spells benefit from it, granting you an extra tick of the Solace DoT, saving 1/2 a GCD over the next 3 spells, and providing mana via Rapture, if used effectively. If you're under the effects of Heroism, you'll lose some of the haste to the GCD cap, possibly making it not worth casting (Power Infusion is OK.) If the extra healing is so unneeded that Rapture will not trigger, it's not worth casting. Try to choose a target likely to take enough damage; the main tank is a fairly safe bet in most cases. Despite ideal opportunities to include PW:S occurring more often, you'll be limited by Weakened Soul (and/or the Rapture internal cooldown.) Be aware of this, and replace with Smite when PW:S is unavailable.

The biggest strength of Atonement is your ability to drop DPS and act as a full healer mid-fight. Pay some attention to the raid's health and upcoming fight phases so that you can cast healing and defensive spells as necessary. Atonement gearing lines up pretty nicely with the stat needs of "normal" Disc healing spells. Your healing spells will be quite potent.


Make sure you have the following buffs on you. These are all buffs you can supply to yourself.

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